Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pipe Cleaner Critters

Our pipe cleaner Valentine's started a pipe cleaner obsession around here, so we had to find more fun things to make with our piles and piles of chenille sticks. Birdy decided she wanted to make caterpillars. They turned out so cute!

To make these little guys you need to start off with one pipe cleaner folded in half. Take another pipe cleaner and wrap it around the first so you create a little ball.

Next, take a pencil and wrap your remaining pipe cleaners in to balls around it. They should slide off the pencil, leaving a hole in the middle large enough to thread the first pipe cleaner through.

 Keep threading the puff balls until you have just about an inch and a half (around 4cm) remaining. These are your antennae. Just take these and curl them up any way you like, and viola! Caterpillars!

I think next we are going to try bumble bees. :)

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Saturday, January 28, 2012


This trick has been entertaining children in my family for generations. It's great for doctors offices, standing in line at the grocery store, or waiting for a table in a restaurant.

It goes like this...

Stand near a wall and while you are blowing on your finger, press backwards against the wall. When the bill of the hat hits the wall it will pop off your head.

Guaranteed make your child giggle!

Happy Saturday!

A Light Table Valentine

Ever since we made our do it yourself light box, we have had a lot of fun coming up with ideas for how to play with it. We have used magna tiles, slides, x-rays, and color paddles and it has all been great fun.
This time we tried something a little different. We used salt. Birdy loved seeing the wonderful shapes and designs left by her little fingers. She swirled and pinched to create lovely marks in the grains.
With Valentine's Day fast approaching, I had already begun to stock our art bucket with activities for Valentine making crafts. I thought it might be fun to add some of the little paper doilies from the bucket to our salt and see what happened.

We laid our doilies out, covered them with salt, and then carefully lifted them up, leaving this beautiful lacy pattern behind.
Some other items you can use with a light box are sand, water beads, transparent plastic cups, transparent plastic lids, mirrors, clear colored beads, bubble wrap or dry erase markers.

Stay tuned for my first ever give away coming February 7th, which will include lots of fun light table activities. If you are thinking about creating your own DIY light table, you will not want to miss this!

This post is part of The Heart Project. To learn more, click on the button below.

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Classified: Mom

Friday, January 27, 2012

Baby Play Friday!

Last week we had some wonderful examples of ways to tailor sensory exploration to meet the needs of very little ones. Pinto beans are great for 3 and 4 year olds, but they can be dangerous for babies and toddlers. Here are some baby and toddler approved projects.

Dirt and Boogers shared a rice cereal sensory tub. I can just hear the snap, crackle, pop now!

And Happy Little Munchkins gave us an excellent example of a heuristic play with this treasure basket.

Three Bears Get Crafty shared this recipe for edible finger paint with us and it looks like it was a big hit!

Thank you so much to every one for linking up last week. If you are looking for activities for your little one, please check out all the bloggers who linked up with us. If you like what you see, don't be shy! Bloggers love comments!

If you have a baby or toddler activity you would like to share with us this week please link it below!

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Child Led Valentine

I keep most of my craft supplies in places where the kids can access them easily. From my years in a classroom, I know the importance of having materials available not just when I have something planned, but also when they have random surges of inspiration. I love seeing what they come up with all on their own.

The other day, I was busy working on something and I heard the drawer to the chest where I keep most of the craft supplies open. When I came to investigate, I found that Birdy had gotten in to the pipe cleaners and was using them to decorate her little car.

After a while she decided to make valentines. Birdy knows valentines day was coming, but I had planned entirely different activities to do. Birdy came up with this little heart bouquet all on her own. Aren't they lovely? Once she was done she asked me for a vase to put them all in. They are now proudly displayed on our mantel.

What other items do we keep available?

-paper(white and colored)
-tempera paint
-paint trays
-water colors
-pipe cleaners
-pop poms
-Popsicle sticks
-recycled materials such as toilet paper tubes, cerial boxes, newspapers, and egg cartons
-a broom and dust pan
-a spray bottle(with vinegar, baking soda, and water)
-a few rags for clean up

Having access to these materials allows children to feed their creative whims with out having to wait for an adult to set everything up. It gives them a feeling of responsibility and accomplishment.

Seeing what the kids come up with when they have no artistic direction is always fun for me, but it is so much more than fun for them!

This post has been linked with The Play Academy

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Rainbow Art Party

When some women are pregnant, they fantasize about nurseries. Some fantasize about names, some even fantasize about colleges. I fantasized about birthday parties. Before my first child had even been born, I planned out at least a half a dozen birthdays. I love birthday parties.

This week my Birdy celebrated her 5th birthday with a rainbow art party. I tried to get as many photos as I could, but unfortunately my camera picked today to start giving me problems. Some of the photos just didn't turn out. (sad face)

I started out with bright colorful decorations. We used balloons, rainbow colored tissue flowers, crepe paper, and bright colored table cloths to fill the space with lots of rainbow fun.

We invited a small number of her friends over to play at our house. I like to keep a manageable sized group if I'm going to be planning something super messy. We had about 8 kids show up and I think that was really perfect.

I set up several different activities for the party.

We had spin art...

We made "big" art using some unusual items to make prints with, such as potato mashers, plungers, rain boots, barbeque brushes, and loofahs...

We used a funnel to make pendulum art...

We also had a tub full of water beads, and we had a necklace making station with rainbow fruit loops...

And a face painting station...

Even with all the art activities we had some who were more interested in digging in dirt or in balloon volleyball. Go figure!

When it was time for cake, I let the kids do the decorating. I gave them a plain white sheet cake and small tubes of gel icing.

This is one of those pictures that I really wish had turned out. The inside of the cake was a beautiful rainbow of colors. Here is an example of the rainbow cake from another blog. To achieve the rainbow effect, simply separate your cake batter in to six bowls and use food coloring to dye the separate bowl fulls of batter in to different colors. Then pour them all in to the pan. Viola! Rainbow cake!

Birdy loved her party. She got to play and paint and make the BIGGEST messes! I think all of her friends had a good time too!

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Baby Play Friday: What's Cookin?

Have you ever tried making your own baby food? I used to love doing this for my little ones, and it is so easy. Bug is way past the baby food stage now, but I thought I would share with you some of his favorite meals from back in his baby food days.

When he began eating solid foods, I kept things pretty simple. I pureed yellow squash or peaches. I mushed up banana or avocado. But as he got a bit older, I had fun coming up with new tastes for him to try. One of his favorites was steamed carrots and beets and chicken broth. It was sweet and savory at the same time and Bug just gobbled it up.

 3 to 4 medium carrots
 1 medium beet
2 cups of chicken broth
cup of water

Wash and peel the carrots and the beet and cut them in to small cubes about 1 inch thick.
Steam the carrots and the beet together in the water and chicken broth for about 20 min. Save the left over liquid.
Place the carrots and the beet in the food processor along with 1/2 cup of your liquid.
Puree until it is smooth. You can add more liquid until it's smooth.

Another recipe that Bug ate up was a yummy blend of kale and banana. I carefully washed a full bunch of kale by dunking it in to a tub of water to get any grit out, then tore the leaves off of the stems and in to small pieces. I steamed them for around 6 or 7 minutes. After steaming the leaves I added them to the food processor. I added some of the liquid left over from steaming them in to the processor  until the puree was smooth. I then added 1 ripe banana and continued to puree.

I know this sounds strange, but the sweetness of the banana really complemented the strong taste of the kale. He loved it.

Do you have any tips for babies and toddlers you would like to share? Link them up below. Any post about babies and toddlers is welcome. And be sure to check out some of the great post left by other bloggers.

Add your link below and please link back to my site so your readers can check out everyone's ideas.